Outcome following brain tumor operations is often assessed by health professionals using various gross function scales. However, surprisingly little is known about how modern glioma surgery affects quality of life (QOL) as reported by the patients themselves. In the present study the authors aimed to assess changes in QOL after glioma surgery, to explore the relationship between QOL and traditional outcome parameters, and to examine possible predictors of change in QOL.
Eighty-eight patients with glioma were recruited from among those 16 years or older who had been admitted to the authors' department for brain tumor surgery in the period between January 2007 and December 2009. A 3D ultrasonography–based navigation system was utilized in nearly all operations and functional MR imaging data on eloquent lesions were incorporated into the neuronavigation system. Preoperative scores for QOL (EuroQol 5D [EQ-5D]) and functional status (Karnofsky Performance Scale [KPS]) were obtained. The EQ-5D and KPS scores were subsequently recorded 6 weeks postoperatively, as were responses to a structured interview about new deficits and possible complications.
There was no change in the median EQ-5D indexes following surgery, 0.76 versus 0.75 (p = 0.419). The EQ-5D index value was significantly correlated with the KPS score (p < 0.001; rho = 0.769). The EQ-5D index values and KPS scores improved in 35.2% and 24.1% of cases, were equal in 20.5% and 47.2% of cases, and deteriorated in 44.3% and 28.7%, respectively. Thus, both improvement and deterioration were underestimated by the KPS score as compared with the patient-reported QOL assessment. New motor deficits (p = 0.003), new language deficits (p = 0.035), new unsteadiness and/or ataxia (p = 0.001), occipital lesions (p = 0.019), and no use of ultrasonography for resection control (p = 0.021) were independent predictors of worsening QOL in a multivariate model.
The surgical procedures per se may not significantly alter QOL in the average patient with glioma; however, new deficits have a major undesirable effect on QOL. It seems that the active use of intraoperative ultrasonography may be associated with a preservation of QOL. The EQ-5D seems like a good outcome measure with a strong correlation to traditional variables while offering a more detailed description of outcome.
Abbreviations used in this paper: EuroQol = EQ-5D; GTR = gross-total resection; KPS = Karnofsky Performance Scale; mRS = modified Rankin Scale; QOL = quality of life; STR = subtotal resection.
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